In 2018, the year I began this photographic project, a report established that during 2017, at least 201 land and environmental defenders worldwide, lost their lives while protecting their communities and regions from the ravages of mining, agribusiness, logging and other environmentally devastating industries.
According to the human rights and environmental organization Global Witness, the majority of the deaths were in Latin America, where 57 defenders perished in Brazil alone, 80 percent of them killed while defending a part of the Amazon rainforest. Despite this alarming situation, the traditional communities of Latin America are undaunted, and continue to protect their territory against development projects that exploit a region’s natural resources, without consideration for its history or culture.
Traditional populations bound to the sacred land, where generations of their ancestors lived and are buried, refuse to abandon it, even after it has been largely destroyed. This photo essay seeks to illuminate the powerful connection between land defenders, and the territories they so fiercely champion.
This is an ongoing project.
Some of these images were possible thanks to the Rainforest Journalism Fund – Pulitzer Center and were shot for the projects Rainforest Defenders by democraciaAbierta and “Ome, Pütchi, Poraû | Woman, Word, Resistance” by Agenda Propia.
Featuring: Pablo Albarenga
Curated by: Claire Seaton
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Pablo Albarenga (b. Montevideo, 1990), is a documentary photographer and visual storyteller exploring human rights issues in Latin America. He was awarded the 2020 Photographer of the Year in the Sony World Photography Awards for his Seeds of Resistance series.
Albarenga is a Pulitzer Center Grantee, and a National Geographic Explorer. As a photographer, he has dedicated his work to investigating, studying, and photographing the colonization process that is still affecting traditional populations in Latin America. Many communities are being threatened by huge development projects that aim to exploit the natural resources available in their territories, such as minerals, wood, and extensive agriculture.
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